Rendition 1

If a story were to be told by five eyewitnesses, the versions will differ from each other significantly based on the perspective of each witness, their educational achievement, level of discernment, level of involvement in the story, and knowledge of past events culminating into the final story. Many other factors can affect the relay of a phenomenon. I present my rendition of one of the most special of stories, truly dear to my heart. If you have a story to tell, you would surely present your unique rendition of it. We are blessed with special moments in life, unique yet common experiences and they pop up from time to time in various stories. Rendition tells the story that recurs among youths, yet is unique and a pleasant read for all.

The sun suddenly seemed brighter. The air around Kassandra seemed to come alive, breathing out a newness that was invisible but palpable. Her heart raced as though she was on a marathon. It squeezed tightly, spewing out every drop of blood. It was an indescribable sensation exerting itself in the very center of her being, her very soul. It raised her from the bent position she assumed. She had bent over a plastic bucket and was washing a few articles of clothing within her hostel room when she heard voices near the door. It was her friend, Damien's voice, that first registered. The other voice was a stranger's, male, tantalizing, alluring to her ears and heart. The voice was carried on the wings of the weak breeze that sneaked in occasionally. 

Kassandra raised herself upright and stood with expectation; her soapy fingers were intertwined and her palms facing each other in front of her. She forgot that she had heard Damien's voice. Her eyes went straight to the stranger's face as the young men walked into her doorway. The two pairs of eyes locked and held for a split second, spontaneous smiles touching both lips. Damien noticed this and gave a dry smile. "Good afternoon," she greeted, her eyes darting from one to the other visitor. "Good afternoon," they chorused their reply. "Kassandra, meet Bemsen, my cousin, and Bem, meet Kassandra, my friend; Damien introduced them to each other. "Copashon!" Kassandra saluted at attention in army fashion, soap suds dripping water onto her room's floor, an attempt at making Damien's cousin welcomed. He was wearing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) green shirt and trouser khaki outfit. He did not need to be introduced as a Corps member. "Carry on!" Bem declared to relax his hostess from the salutation stance. He laughed softly, revealing a gap in his upper teeth. Oh! The gap teeth that I adore so much. He's got it. Wow!

Bemsen took to Kassandra immediately. She relaxed from the salute. "But it is ex-copashion," he added. "My set just passed out of the Youth Corps two days ago." "Cool. Congrats to you. Please come right in and make yourselves comfortable", she welcomed and made way for them to pass to her corner of the hostel room. "Thank you very much," Bemsen smiled again. Kassandra picked up the gap in his teeth again. Standard rooms in the hostels accommodated four legal occupants. There were two double bunks in the room that housed each legal occupant. There was also a chest of four closets, each carrying a storage cubicle above and a sizeable drawer beneath. Two corners of the room carried a reading cubicle with a concrete slab projecting from the wall, the height of a reading table. Above the concrete table was a reading lamp holder with a flexible neck for ease of light manipulation. Directly opposite the chest of wardrobes, attached to the wall was another pair of reading cubicles. Provision was made for four chairs to fit with the four reading cubicles. These chairs were also used by the students to occupy their visitors. Since university accommodation was in short supply and had to be rationed, some students squatted with others. Hence there were two illegal occupants in each room. Some rooms had more occupants than a total of six, and the situation got worse each subsequent academic year.

Kassandra quickly pushed the bucket of clothes to a corner to be handled at a later time. She rinsed her hands and wiped them with a napkin she had placed on her bunk's rail. Her visitors occupied two of the four chairs in the room. The chairs were turned to face Kassandra's bed which was the lower bunk farther from the entrance door. Hence the chairs faced directly away from the door. She moved towards her visitors and sat on her bed, facing them directly. One of her roommates was asleep on the lower bunk of the opposite bed. The other roommates were out on the weekend to Makurdi town. "Once again, guys, you are welcome to my humble dwelling." "Thanks," they chorused. "So, how is the heat?" Bemsen inquired. "Relentless, as you can testify," Kassandra replied. "But one must adjust, adaptation, you know." "NEPAaaaaaa!" a female student's squeal was heard coming from the next room. "Your stars are shining," Kassandra commented, reaching out to the wall switch to turn on the ceiling fan. "With power back, you can kiss goodbye to heat, well, at least for as long as the power stays." "Thank God," Damien sighed. "So what would you prefer to have? I've got cooked food, and I can get snacks for you from the common room shop." "Don't bother yourself, Kass; we just had lunch," Damien replied. "The Corps guy came visiting, so we stepped out to see a few friends. When we leave you, we'll go to the male hostels here in South core to see other people. 

The last person we hope to see is Bemsen's younger sister in the female hostels in north-core. Then we'll head back to my room in the boys' hostels. Well, Jamo had to be the first point of call. I wanted you to meet my cousin, who also happens to be my close friend." "Hey! Damien, you know I don't like that name", Kassandra queried. "We live in Zion, not Jamo." "Sorry," he apologized through an outburst of laughter. "What's the meaning of Jamo?" Bemsen asked, laughing along with Damien and enjoying the smile mixed with a slightly tortured expression on her face. The harder he laughed, the more difficult it became for him to talk and reveal the word's meaning. "Well," Kassandra stepped in to get it over with. "I'm not quite sure, but it has been said that when the males come to the female hostel, they are always sure to jab or 'jam' their faces into gross feminine stuff. I don't know. That may or may not be it. 

The name is not quite appropriate because princesses of the Highest live here, so we call this hostel Zion." "I agree with you totally," Bem put in, nodding his head. Damien was now smiling calmly and nodding his head in agreement. "Kass, can I borrow…" Jenny, Kassandra's next-door neighbor, stepped into the room, then halted on seeing that there were visitors. "Hi," she greeted the young men with a child-like wave and a funny look on her face that could be interpreted that she had been caught with her fingers in a pot of soup. "Hello," the young men answered, looking her way. "Kass, I'll be back." She turned on her heels and left the room. "Anyway, it's kind of you guys to check up on me," Kassandra smiled her appreciation. "Thanks." She turned to Bemsen. "Also, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, my friend's cousin and friend." She extended her hand for a handshake. "And I prefer the full name, Bemsen. Do you mind?" "Not at all," Bemsen replied. He took her hand, held it ever so tenderly, and for a split second longer. 

"On the contrary, it'll be an honor to have you call me what my mum calls me." Their gazes locked again in a peculiar fashion, and her heart did a summersault, her entire body warming up gently. What is that he does to me? I hope I am not falling for this guy? Lord, help me! "Can I call you Kass as well?" Bem requested. "Sure! Why not?" She gently pried her entrapped fingers from his determined but tender grip. "My friends call me that, and well, you are more of an acquaintance now, but you are related to my friend, so you are close to becoming a friend already," Kassandra shrugged. "Thanks, Kass," they all laughed. "I'd like to get to know you better. Would you allow that?" she could see a beautiful fire pass swiftly through his eyes. His whole being surged towards her. She could feel his eyes begging her to acquiesce to his request. Damien tried to hide his discomfort at the over-spark of friendship between the two. Careful, Bem. You are treading on slippery ground. I came before you. Oh! I hope he is not hitting on my intended. "I don't mind," Kassandra replied. Your eyes do not need to beg me. It is I who wants desperately to get to know you. She smiled and turned to Damien as though seeking authorization. Damien shrugged indifferently and smiled back. "Alright then," Bemsen stood along with Damien. "I'll see you tomorrow after church service." "And you'll be welcomed," Kassandra announced as she walked them out of her accommodation.

Outside, the air was gentle and carried coolness from the foliage of the trees that lined the walkway, which meandered all around the hostels. The trio walked together for about ten yards. When they got to a junction in the walkway, Kassandra bade them goodbye and made a return trip back to her room. Her face was lit permanently, her heart dancing in a glee she seemed unable to hide. What is happening to me? Lord, please hold me tight in your arms. I think I am going insane. But over what? A guy? What has my heart seen? Kassandra was in her second year at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi. She was a Bachelor of Agriculture (B. Agric) student studying Animal Production. Her love for livestock generally had pushed her into reading the course. Life, even microscopic life, fascinated her, and she knew her relevance must lie there in Animal Production. Gaining admission into a Nigerian university was a daunting task for many, with thousands left without each academic year. 

To obtain an admission was hard, and to get the course of choice was even more difficult. Kassandra's case was an exception. It was her first attempt at sitting for Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) exams, and she passed with grades way beyond the required cut-off mark for her chosen course. With humility in her heart, she did not assess herself to be better academically than others who did not gain admission. She attributed her success and good fortune entirely to divine favor and destiny. The articles of clothing took a longer period than normal to render fit for the clothesline. There were many long pauses with accompanying reflective smiles. Before the clothes reached the clothesline, Kassandra had replayed her meeting with Bemsen for the millionth time in her ever vivid mind. She analyzed every word, facial expression, and action. An alien fear suddenly gripped her heart, the fear that Bemsen's image had forever been stamped upon her heart. 

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